7 things I learned from my very first volunteering experience in U.S
Being too busy, you might find it difficult to join a volunteer activity, but there are huge benefits that you can get back for yourself, your family, and your community. I’m really grateful for being a student at ALI – where I dedicated my weekend time as a volunteer to help others, make friends, as well as improve myself.
Here’s what I learned from my previous volunteering experiences as an ALI Student:
- Small task, big impact
Choosing to be a volunteer, you’re supposed to make your community a better place. I used to help with the garden project at the College Area Community Garden that’s right next to SDSU campus. I expected that we would plant trees or something like that. However, all we was just able to help them out is delivering raised bed from one place to another place where they would grow vegetables afterwards. It seems to be easy but a little bit heavy to me, because working at the garden can be physically challenging and dirty. Then I got used to it, and try hard to accomplish as much as I can. The most important thing that I learned that we had a chance to make a difference at a facility that can help feed our neighbors for many years to come through smallest tasks.
2. Booster for your mind
I think volunteering also helps you to deal with homesickness. When I came to San Diego, I felt a little bit upset because of social isolation. Nevertheless, Volunteering keeps you in regular contact with others and helps you develop a solid support system, which in turn protects you against stress and depression when you’re going through challenging times. I really improved my mood and reduce stress and anxiety after volunteering.
3. Improve relationship and social skills
I have to admit that, my social skill is not good at all. I’m kind of introvert person, but I always want to do volunteering since senior high school. As a volunteer, I always have to work in a small group, I’m supposed to communicate with teammates to do our job more effectively. My communication skills improved since then.
4. Increase self-esteem:
Feeling of doing something good for environment and the community gives me a natural sense of accomplishment, pride and recognition. As a result, I feel better about myself, and then have a positive thinking of my goals in the future.
5. Help you stay happily healthy:
Yes, that’s true. Whether you believe or not, volunteering is good for your health at any age, especially for older adults. According to a study, those who volunteer have a lower mortality rate than those who do not, and volunteering has also been shown to lessen symptoms of chronic pain or heart disease.
6. Practical skills needed for your career:
Even though volunteer is an unpaid job, you have to follow the rules, be responsible, be disciplined and have some specific skills. When we served dinner for homeless people at St. Vincent De Paul Village, we had to fill out a volunteer agreement and read basic rules about food handling, for instance, dress modestly, in long pants and a T-shirt, wear closed-toe shoes; Photography is prohibited; smoking, using cell phones or headphones, and chewing gum will not be allowed during serving food.
7. Have fun:
Unlike serving dinner, cleaning up Canyon Restoration activity brings to me a different experience. Our team leader told us to be prepared to sweat and get a little dirty for a good cause! That sounds exciting, and it truly was. I fully enjoyed my time volunteering with cutting down the harmful trees, and picking up the trash around the neighborhood.
Tips for Getting Started Volunteering
First, ask yourself if there is something specific you want to do.
For example, do I want…
…to make it better around where I live
…to meet people who are different from me
…to try something new
…to do something with my spare time
…to see a different way of life and new places
…to have a go at the type of work I might want to do as a full-time job
…to do more with my interests and hobbies
…to do something I’m good at
The best way to volunteer is to match your personality and interests. Having answers to these questions will help you narrow down your search.
Source: World Volunteer Web
(Photo: Alan – ALI Student Life)
– Venusa –